Today I am delighted to be reviewing ‘Game On: 15 Stories of Wins, Losses, and Everything in Between’ as part of the TBR & Beyond Blog Tour. You can check out the tour schedule Here and please check out the other blogs involved.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
A charming and inclusive YA anthology all about games–from athletic sports to board games to virtual reality–from editor Laura Silverman and an all-star cast of contributors.
From the slightly fantastical to the utterly real, light and sweet romance to tales tinged with horror and thrills, Game On is an anthology that spans genre and style. But beneath each story is a loving ode to competition and games perfect for anyone who has ever played a sport or a board game, picked up a video game controller, or rolled a twenty-sided die.
A manhunt game is interrupted by a town disappearing beneath the players’ eyes. A puzzle-filled scavenger hunt emboldens one college freshman to be brave with the boy she’s crushing on. A series of summer nights full of card games leads a boy to fall for a boy who he knows is taken. And a spin the bottle game could end a life-long friendship.
Fifteen stories, and fifteen unforgettable experiences that may inspire readers to start up that Settlers of Catan game again.
I will admit that I went into this collection expecting it to be a bit more sports orientated, although I knew from the summary that it covered more forms of ‘games’ than that, but I think the cover biased me. I will also say, that there were a few stories where the concept of ‘game’ and competition felt a little too loose. However, that said, I still really enjoyed this collection and that is because of the range of stories, and the varied themes and representation that was integral to this anthology. As well as the sheer creativity in how games and competition were interpreted, and although I had expected more sports, it was a delight to see other takes on that theme – for example, I love the puzzles in ‘The Mystery Hunt’ by Gloria Chao.
My favourite story in the collection is without a doubt ‘She Could Be a Farmer’ by Nina Moreno, maybe because I am a gamer, but also because it was such a wonderfully written, cute story that resonated very strongly and the author did a fantastic job of capturing the awkward distance that comes from crushes, as well as growing up and finding courage. Also, I just adored the friendship between Camila and Ernesto. Just a wonderfully warming and homey story that had me smiling.
Another favourite is ‘The Mystery Hunt’ by Gloria Chao. The creativity with the interpretation of ‘game’ as well as the puzzles took this story to the next level, and this one will certainly be a hit to anyone who likes puzzles or just playing with language. I also loved the contradiction – which felt very real – between being good with languages, but poor with communication, and how that played into the romance. Again the relationship and romance in this one were very cute, and the ending was perfect.
Other stories that stood out for me were ‘The Girl With the Teeth’ by Kayla Whaley – a complete contradiction to my favourites – but the author managed to create such a visceral horror story that it lingered for a long time afterwards. It was wonderfully disturbing, and I’ve been on a slight horror kick recently so it was just what was needed. ‘Hell Week’ was one that resonated on a personal level, and is one of the stories that I’d most like to see a longer version of, just to see how it was resolved. The same with ‘One of the Good Ones’ by Isaac Fitzsimons, as it feels like a story that needed more space to breathe, although it was incredibly relevant and powerful in its form here.
A major strength of this anthology is that it explores so many themes, and it should be noted that not all of them are easy reading, but they’re very real ones that will resonate. It is also one of the things that left me wanting more by the end because there were so many stories that while they were self-contained within the length here, had me wondering what would happen next and wanting to read that. On the flip side, there were also a few stories, that felt as though they didn’t really have a resolution or any kind of explanation to anchor me into the story.
As with any anthology, there are a few stories that didn’t quite resonate as strongly with me, but those will be the stories that hit home for other readers. Overall, though this was an interesting collection, and the range of genres means that it is one that will offer something for a lot of different readers, and every story is more than worth a read because even the stories that didn’t feel like they had a solid ending had interesting ideas and themes. Definitely worth a read, and I have discovered some authors I want to read more from, and I would recommend to anyone who loves games and competition, and wants a slightly different collection.
Laura Silverman is an author and freelance editor and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. Her books include Girl Out of Water, You Asked for Perfect, It’s a Whole Spiel, Recommended for You, Up All Night, and the upcoming Game On. Girl Out of Water was a Junior Library Guild Selection, and You Asked for Perfect was named to best teen fiction lists by YALSA, Chicago Public Library, and the Georgia Center for the Book. You can contact Laura on Twitter @LJSilverman1 or through her website LauraSilvermanWrites.com
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.